With Earth Day fast approaching, this is a fitting time to grab some wonderful global kids’ books and learn together about some environmental changemakers. This is the second in Seacoast Moms series on Global Kids Books: Raising Your Children to be World Citizens.
News about climate change is inescapable. Studies show that all this reality is causing our young people to feel anxious and helpless. It makes sense; this is the world our children are inheriting and the news about it is almost never good. However, leaving our children with feelings of powerlessness about the future of the planet is never acceptable. Therefore, I created a lost of global kids books to inspire hope. Humans around the world have not given up on the Earth. Reading these books will help remind our children that they shouldn’t either.
People of Color Leading the Way
Earth care is one of the many areas where people of color around the world are leading the way. Climate change disproportionately affects people of color around the world. This will continue to happen if no one makes a change. It is important that we and our children acknowledge the leadership of these changemakers.
Noble Peace Prize winner and environmental changemaker Wangari Muta Maathai has inspired several wonderful picture books. Two of my favorites are Mama Miti by Donna Jo Napoli and Wangari’s Trees of Peace by Jeanette Winter. This Kenyan hero is determined to reforest her country and enlist other women to help her.
Another inspiring woman from the African continent is Isatou Ceesay. One Plastic Bag by Miranda Paul tells the story of how Isatou was inspired by the plastic bags littering her home in Gambia. She rallied the women of her community to start a business to support themselves and clean up this source of pollution. Author Miranda Paul is a prolific picture book creator who often introduces children to amazing heroes around the world. She also wrote I am Farmer about a Cameroon farmer who is changing the face of African farming and water.
Margarito’s Forest by Andy Carter shares the story of Don Margarito Esteban lvarez Velazquez. Told from his daughter’s perspective, this important book chronicles her father’s dedication to saving the forest near his home. It focuses on reversing the terrible effects of deforestation and sharing the traditional Mayan Indigenous knowledge about Earth care.
If your kids are ready for longer books, you can get them a copy of One Earth: People of Color Protecting Our Planet by Anuradha Rao. Your teens will enjoy A Bigger Picture by Vanessa Natake. This young activist is determined to bring African voices to the conversation about climate change.
Your animal-loving, future environmental changemakers will connect with Jane Gooddall’s story in The Watcher by Jeannette Winter. After learning about the iconic chimpanzee scientist and advocate, you and your little ones and may find a new hero in Elephant Scientist by Caitlin O’Connell.
Kids Making a Difference
No list of global kids books about environmental changemakers would be complete without mentioning Swedish powerhouse Greta Thunberg. Our House is On Fire by Jeannette Winter captures Greta’s passion about reversing climate change. For younger or more sensitive readers, try Greta and the Giants by Zoe Tucker.
One of the reasons Greta Thunberg has captured the attention of the world is because she is so passionate and yet she is so young. Your children will find her and other youth earth activists intriguing for this very reason. After they have met Greta, introduce them to William Kamkwamba, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. William used renewable energy to power his village in Malawi. This book is a great option because it is available in both a younger reader’s edition for young adult readers and a picture book for younger children.
The dedication and knowledge of Indigenous environmental changemakers is important to share with our children. Two global kids books that share the story of Ojibway youth and elders are Water Walkers by Carol Ann Trembath and The Water Walker by Joanne Robertson.
Next children can get a sense of the scope of the global youth environmental movement through Old Enough to Save the Planet by Loll Kirby. Also your preteens and teens be awed by the environmental changemakers in Girl Warriors by Rachel Sarah.
At a time when bad news is flying about daily, the simple act of reading global kids books about environmental changemakers can give our children a bit more hope.
Books for the Youngest Group
The global kids’ books for earth day in this post are intended for school-aged children and teens. While there are many global kids books for our youngest kids, reading about environmentalists around the world will mean very little to them. They just aren’t ready to comprehend environmental problems.
Age Appropriate Environmentalism
When kids are young it is best to help them learn to appreciate nature before they discover that it is in danger. Stick to picture books that connect children to nature until they get a little older. A good one for this time of year is Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring by Kenard Pak. Then in preschool you can start to introduce books that point out our collective responsibility to care for the Earth. Try: Nibi is Water by Joanne Robertson, I Love the Earth by Todd Parr or My Friend Earth by Patricia MacLachlan. Once they start to realize that the natural world they love so much needs help, you can inspire them with the books above.